‘Can you just stick to one genre? Maybe?': Interview with Keith Hartman
When you hear of a film like Real Heroes, featuring LGBT superheroes in a reality TV show, you really want to know what kind of nut came up with it. While certainly no cashew, Keith Hartman has worked very hard on trying to get his career off the ground, and so we wanted to know how and why he ended up having to use a Kickstarter campaign to finance the completion of his latest film.
Seeing as his creative career started off seriously, we thought we would do the same – Keith started as a novelist, working on a book called Congregations in Conflict: The Battle Over Homosexuality, where he ‘took a small sample area in North Carolina, because there were a lot of cultures at the same time, and, psychologically, there was a lot of conflict’, and compared and contrasted the different religious groups and their attitudes towards homosexuality. The rest of his books have been more ambiguous, and, as he jokes, ‘my publisher is like, ‘Can you just stick to one genre? Maybe?”. This is because ‘there is a lot of mystery, there’s a lot of gay characters in them – it’s kind of a fun medley’, and he explained that his books get split between the LGBT, Mystery, and Science-Fiction sections a lot. The latter he doesn’t mind as much, because ‘science-fiction readers tend to be more open-minded about gay characters’.
Recently in comic book and superhero land, we have had a gay wedding, coming-out parties a-plenty, and even one of DC’s biggest names – the Green Lantern – coming out as homosexual, so we asked Keith for his thoughts. ‘Comic books are [frustrating], because they show all these different kinds of people and yet none of them are gay, they’re just a bit odd’. He agreed that Real Heroes is a reaction to that, but does this mean that more lesbian and transgender characters will appear? ‘Well sure’, he told us, ‘even in the movie, we have Sable who is going through her big teenage crush on a girl at school – this is the best populated movie where everyone is playing with their sexuality’. ‘The best example [of lesbians in this area] is in Buffy, you remember Buffy?’, and after we politely informed him that we could quote the entire musical, he continued, ‘[Willow] was treated the same as everybody else, which is what I want for the characters in my film’.
Finally, the conversation turned to Kickstarter and how this got things going. But first, we needed to know who came up with the idea for the video – if you haven’t seen it, it’s very different to most videos on there. ‘That was my idea’, Keith said, proudly explaining that, ‘what you’ve got to understand is that there are thousands of videos on Kickstarter all saying the same thing: ‘please give me money’, but I wanted to make sure that we could hear from the characters, and [that] the actors were all up for it’. It’s certainly a very effective way of marketing. But what happens if it doesn’t work? ‘If I can’t finish the Kickstarter campaign I won’t be able to continue with anything else, because of how things have worked out’. Which puts a lot of pressure under this campaign to succeed, but Keith is ‘hopeful’.
To wrap things up, we asked Keith if there was anything he would like to say people reading and thinking of adding to the pot. He replied: ‘our movie won’t change the world, but it is definitely funny so everyone should check it out and it is a really great project to back’. We definitely agree, and sincerely hope that this project does well.
You can view the Real Heroes project on Kickstarter, follow Keith @WaltzingPenguin on Twitter, and see all of the promotional videos, including the online mini-series about Comet Boy and Kid Krypton, on YouTube.
Main image courtesy of www.keith-hartman.com.